Interview this evening with Robin outside Vestas, Newport, Isle of Wight, about the blockade today, Friday 4 September, that has prevented Vestas taking the remaining blades from the factory.
What happened today?
I would say 25-30 supporters from the mainland were present at the Marine Gate for the blockade today; plus the hard core of the workers. A few other Islanders – certainly a few people walking their dogs along the cycle path took an interest! We were gathered from about 7am. We made a new banner which says ‘Whose factory?’ and hung it up by the jetty.
A lot of the camp that was on the roundabout has moved to the Marine Gate which is where the blades go out from the factory to the River Medina. At our meeting in the evening we decided to maintain both camps, on the roundabout in front of the factory and at the back by the Marine Gate.
Four blades were removed by barge from the factory at Venture Quays, East Cowes, possibly a mould for making blades. We have definitely stopped them from removing the blades from Newport, because they had sent two barges, one can take about 6 blades, the other 4 blades. Our thinking is that, seeing the size of the mobilisation today, Vestas decided not to come to Newport.
Today we tested our systems for getting information and on today’s evidence that was spot on. We had information about the barges leaving Southampton; we had two hours to mobilise. In the future, we will get two hours’ notice. Then we have people at Cowes who can see what the barges do once they arrive there; we will know if they come down the Medina.
There was a good meeting this evening. We discussed moving the whole camp to the Marine Gate but decided to keep a presence at both, partly for symbolic value. The main kitchen is at the front, but we will soon have a stove for the Marine Gate camp too.
What are the next steps in the campaign?
We are writing a press release this evening announcing the launch proper of the blockade, which began today and showed it is effective. We are calling on people to come and join the blockade. If anyone wants to confirm that they are coming, they could text one of us: for now, try Ed 07775 763750 or Bob 07843 945005.
These were not special tides that made Vestas act today. Basically, the barges could come any day, twice a day. It has been normal practice in the past for the barges to come and collect blades during the night. The only things that can affect whether the barges come are our presence and the wind – they don’t move the blades when it’s windy. All we know is that we will get our two hours’ notice.
Was there more security about today?
There were noticeably more police, including a police patrol boat on the River Medina, with a big camera. Having said that, we were clearly, 10-15 of us, milling about by the jetty – which I think is out of bounds – and no one did anything.
Gurit [a neighbouring factory] security were complaining to the police about us using a hole in the fence near their factory as a shortcut to the Marine Gate, but the police are not taking their side in that.
Has the normal routine been disrupted today by the need to blockade?
No, the picketing of the workers going in to clean up the factory went ahead this morning; and the activities that the workers do on Saturdays around the Isle of Wight are continuing. Tomorrow they are taking part in the Ryde Carnival in the evening.
We have plans ready for when the barges do come. I won’t say anything about that, but only say that we are satisfied that our plans are in place.